This Agra handmade India wool rug is available through Kaoud Carpets & Rugs in Wilton. — Couristan photo

Mention Oriental rugs and most people think of an expensive rug requiring extensive care that should be purchased after conducting research into its authenticity. True, but a self-education will help make your selection a breeze. “Buying an Oriental rug can be intimidating when considering the cost of some hand-knotted rugs. Preparing yourself with a quick study of Oriental rugs will prepare you for what to look for,” says Phillip Ziegler, master textile cleaner and owner of Ziegler Preservation Cleaning in Danbury.

Oriental rugs are produced all over the world, from Turkey, Continental Europe, and Pakistan to China, India, and South and Central America, explains Nader Daghoghi, president of Savoy Gallery in Westport. “The best quality from any one location/source will solely depend on the workmanship and quality of the materials used. We strongly discourage purchasing online since rugs must be inspected in person,” Daghoghi says.

Phillip Ziegler, owner of Ziegler Preservation Cleaning in Danbury, locks the ends on an Oriental runner. The lockstitch is to keep the end from unraveling. — Contributed photo

Rugs with a hand-knotted weave are the most sought-after, according to Fred Kaoud Jr., co-owner of Kaoud Carpets & Rugs in Wilton. “They’re made by individually tying knots by hand to a foundation and therefore result in a very durable and long-lasting finished product,” he states. “Materials used in making Oriental rugs are traditionally wool fibers; however, many other materials are often used, such as silk, bamboo, viscose, and cotton. We like the use of wool in our rugs because it’s a renewable resource and 100% green, which makes it terrific for the environment.” Patterns include floral motifs and geometric designs. “We see a tremendous influx of patterns that portray nature and organic scenes. Another popular design is a rug pattern with no border but instead with random scenes with broken designs with no center medallion or side borders,” Kaoud observes.

When selecting a quality-made rug, Kaoud advises buyers to evaluate the tightness of the pile, the softness of the materials, and the clarity of the design on the back of the rug. “Given that these rugs are handmade and materials can vary greatly from rug to rug, it’s extremely important to follow these guidelines when deciding on a rug. A wide spectrum of qualities in weave and materials used means rugs can vary in terms of price points, so it’s very important to understand the differences in order to choose wisely,” he says, noting an Oriental rug is often the foundation of a room, anchoring its furniture, accessories, and colors within a design scheme. “Soft, muted colors such as gray, tan, silver, beige, and pale green are popular,” he notes.

Interior designer Cecy Gillen, owner of Cecy Gillen Designs in Norwalk, uses Oriental rugs in a living room or master bedroom for a special touch. “It’s a piece of handcrafted art, so enjoy it in an area you love the most,” she says. “Homeowners should have at least one in their lifetime to enjoy the magic of a genuine piece. What makes them so magical is the art involved to create them, and also because they’re made of natural materials. They’re made in so many colors and patterns, so there’s something for everyone.”

This rug, from the Manhattan-Reserve collection, available through the Savoy Gallery in Westport, was crafted with hand-carded (a mechanical process) wool, and its finely woven designs were inspired by elements from antique Ottoman, Egyptian and Asian textiles, according to Nader Daghoghi, president.

According to Daghoghi, rug colors change according to the trend and styles in vogue. “For example, gray tones are in, and the 2017 Pantone color of the year is called Greenery, which is like avocado green and apple green infused. Patterns and designs also change, except for the classic patterns such as Persian Heriz or Serapi, which tend to have a more rustic and nomadic expression.” Today, Daghoghi explains, designers and scholars in the rug industry are merging toward transitional and modern designs produced in all regions of the world, providing many options. “We strongly suggest going through an experienced designer to select the right rug,” he says.

To verify a rug’s origin, Cecy recommends reading the tags or label on the back to make sure it’s not synthetic. “It also tells you where it’s been made, and must say handmade or hand-knotted,” she explains. “Persian rugs are only made by hand; there’s no reproduction by machines.”

According to Kaoud, prices range from $500 to $50,000, depending on the materials. “The finer the weave and materials, typically the higher the price tag,” he says. “In the higher-end price ranges, age also has bearing, because older antique rugs in good condition can cost much more due to limited supply and demand.” Once a rug’s quality and authenticity is determined, Daghoghi recommends insuring it with a reputable source to protect your investment.

Oriental rugs require consistent care and cleaning. According to Ziegler, a rug can last over 100 years if cared for properly. “Mold damage and extensive pet contamination can cut the life of an Oriental rug short,” he says, noting that rugs should be vacuumed at least once a week in normal use, and more in highly trafficked areas. “Stay away from the fringes. Vacuuming out fringes increases wear, and they can get caught and ripped from the rug with some vacuums,” he adds. “Have the rug professionally cleaned every two to five years. Oriental rugs made of wool can be spot-cleaned of oily substances. Wool has an affinity to repel oils and water; however, a water-based stain can be a permanent one. Over-the-counter spot cleaners should not be used on Oriental carpets at any time! A lot of these products contain brighteners and bleaches that can severely harm the wool fiber and loosen dyes. Blot up spills as quickly as possible, and use plain water to help remove any coloration and dilute the substance spilled.”

Consider an Oriental rug if you want to add a lifetime of beauty to a room. “What else can you buy for your home that you can use for 50 years or more and it still looks good?” Fred Kaoud concludes.